Pro Football Focus released its Top 25 College Football Power Rankings for 2020, and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish checked in at No. 8.
Notre Dame has been a relatively consistent Top 10 team in the various way-too-early polls, and the PFF ranking is no different. The criteria for this list, however, is a bit different. This isn’t just a poll of top teams, there is a formula that includes recruiting rankings, returning players and “market information.”
Here is why the Irish are No. 8 in the rankings:
“After earning the 40th-highest PFF passing grade in the country in 2019 (minimum 350 dropbacks), Ian Book returns to see if the Irish can get in the College Football Playoff for the second time in three years.”
Three Notre Dame opponents also found themselves in the rankings. Clemson was ranked No. 1 on the list, Wisconsin ranked No. 13 and USC ranked No. 24.
Let’s take a look at why PFF has the Irish opponents where they do.
“Trevor Lawrence (1.4 win shares in 2019), Travis Etienne (0.810), Justyn Ross (0.29) and company are overwhelming favorites to win the ACC again, and Lawrence improves after a relatively down 2019. The Tigers should vie for their third national championship in the last five years.”
“The Big Ten’s runner up in 2019, the Badgers lose some pretty valuable players in Jonathan Taylor (0.54 win shares in 2019), Zack Baun (0.47) and Quintez Cephus (0.37) to the NFL.”
“We’re a little little lower on USC than some, but if Kedon Slovis (0.44 win shares in 2019) can do what some other Pac-12 quarterbacks failed to do over the last few years (improve), then the Trojans will have a chance in a weak conference.”
It is obvious that PFF is extremely high on the SEC. An SEC team was ranked No. 3 (Alabama), No. 4 (LSU), No. 5 (Georgia), No. 6 (Florida), No. 10 (Auburn), No. 14 (Texas A&M), No. 19 (Tennessee), No. 20 (Kentucky) and No. 25 (Mississippi State). That’s nine of the 14 SEC programs in the Top 25.
The Big Ten was next with six teams in the rankings (Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota), the Pac 12 had four teams in the rankings (Oregon, Utah, Washington, USC), three from the Big 12 (Oklahoma, Texas, Baylor), one team from the ACC (Clemson), one team from the American Athletic Conference (Memphis) and of course, one independent program.
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